How to Deal with Problems

This morning I was listening to Tony Robbins. I went and got a tape of Tony after being with him recently. He was saying a lot of people acquaint happiness with having no problems. He says that’s crazy. It reminded me of one of Norman Vincent Peale’s favorite stories. Norman was walking down the street in New York City when he ran into a friend of his and said, “How are you doing?”  Norman thought it was just a casual greeting, but the guy took it as an invitation and he lay down all of his problems at Norman’s feet. After about twenty minutes, he was finished and he said, “Norman, if you can solve all of my problems, I’ll give you a check for $5,000 to give to your favorite charity.” Norman said that he had never turned down such a challenge, so he ruminated and he cogitated and he agitated and he came up with a solution. He said, “I was just at an organization the other day where people have no problems. Would you like to go there?” And his friend said, “That’s exactly where I want be.” And Norman said, “I’ll take you there tomorrow. It’s called Woodlawn Cemetery. The only people I know who have no problems are dead.”  Problems are a way of life, so if you equate your happiness to not having any problems, you’re going to be naïve for the rest of your life. Happy people know how to deal with problems. They don’t get bogged down with problems. They solve problems. They work on problems. But they don’t let problems take over their life. You know, sometimes you put a problem on your back and it drags you down. What you have to do is to say, “How do I solve this?”  Happiness and problems go together. So as Tony said, it’s your attitude—it’s what you bring to a problem—that can result in a positive solution, So if you have any problems today, great! You’ll probably have a happier day.

Giving Thanks

You know, not long ago I woke up and I had a little “pity party.” I was kind of feeling bad.  I had been traveling a lot, and that day I was flying out of state to do something I had agreed to do over a year earlier. And I was thinking, “Wow, I’ve had enough of travel.” I’d just as soon have stayed home with Margie and our dog Joy and gone up to the office and hugged everybody. So I was having a pretty good pity party. And then I just kind of backed off. I read my mission statement and my obituary and my values—and I realized that there must be some reason I was going there. Maybe somebody really needed the message I was going to bring; maybe somebody really needed something I could help them with. You know, if you’re going to make the word a better place, you do it by the moment-to-moment decisions you make as you interact with other people. So I just kind of pumped myself up and said, “Okay, Blanchard, you’re here to make the world a little bit better, so stop with the pity party. You’ve just got another new audience—a new group of people.” And maybe, just maybe, I did make a little bit of a difference in someone’s life.

So if you ever have those feelings, you know—“Monday, oh my God. I’ve got to go back to work,” or whatever—the reality is that we’re really wonderfully blessed. We have to keep on reminding ourselves when we get into our pity party to just get up. Because somebody always has it worse than we have it. Somebody has some problems and maybe we can help—whether it be a customer or coworker, family member, or friend. So no more pity parties. Although it is good to recognize that we can all fall into that mood, the way out, especially this week, is positive thinking, giving thanks for what you do have,  and realizing that we are really here to make a difference.

Every Ending Has A New Beginning

I’ll never forget when, right after my dad died, I took my mom up to Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power. They watched that all the time in Florida and that was their favorite Sunday activity, watching the Hour of Power with Reverend Schuller. She had never been up there and this was the last service in the old chapel. Halfway through the service, everybody got up and walked into the new Crystal Cathedral, which is just absolutely beautiful. And the sermon from Reverend Schuller that day was “Every Ending has a New Beginning,” which is a wonderful thought. So as the next season or the next year ends for us and other people, we have new beginnings.

It was also amazing thinking about visualization. I was sitting there with my mom, and it’s a magnificent place, and I leaned over and I said, “Someday I’m going to be up there with Reverend Schuller.” And this was 1979. And my mom said, “How are you going to do that?” and I said, “I don’t know.” And then when The One Minute Manager came out in 1982, the next year, there I was up there with Reverend Schuller and my mom was out there in the cathedral, watching.  So life is a very special occasion. I visualize a wonderful fall for all of us.

Staying Peaceful

I have a great saying for you today that my friend Pat Zigarmi gave me last year when I was recovering from my hip surgery.  This is a good one for all of us:

“Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”

How is that?  That’s really pretty powerful. Because with all the stress and the movement with the economy and everybody working hard and all, you have to find a way to stay peaceful in the midst of turmoil. That happens by quieting yourself periodically as you work through the day and know that you’re doing good things—you’re making a difference in people’s lives. Calm yourself down, take a few deep breaths, and recognize that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. Have a great day.


Something that’s so important in changing organizations for the better is the whole concept of trust. As I’ve said before, trust and respect go together. There are some real trust issues that people are dealing with out there. Sometimes people are not sure that the leader necessarily respects them and seeks their opinions. The leader could even be making an effort to do that, but people may be suspicious because of past leaders. It’s so important. It doesn’t do you any good to be concerned or have an issue about something and not let the person working with you, or someone else, know about it, so something can be done about it. As the CEO of WD-40 Company, Garry Ridge, says, everything is a learning opportunity if it’s an issue we can learn from. So I hope you really listen to your people, respect them, and ask their opinions. Treat everyone you work with as teammates in this tough economic time, so you can trust each other and work together toward what you’re trying to accomplish. I love the old saying that there’s no “I” in TEAM, because it’s so true.